Vicar with vertigo climbs his church spire to raise repair money

Heavens above! Vicar with vertigo climbs his church spire to raise repair money… and beat his fear of heights

  • Reverend Sam Leach conquered his fears to climb his church’s 165ft spire
  • The 44-year-old is normally so afraid of heights he struggles on escalators
  • Vicar got a little closer to God by scaling St Mary Magdalene Church, Torquay 

Even after becoming a man of the cloth, this vicar with vertigo found a higher calling.

Reverend Sam Leach conquered his fears to climb his church’s 165ft spire in a fundraising feat to pay for repairs.

The 44-year-old is normally so afraid of heights that ‘going up an escalator, I have to hang on to the rail’. 

But yesterday, along with three others, the vicar got a little closer to God by scaling St Mary Magdalene Church in Torquay.

‘I was really nervous beforehand, but it was actually really exhilarating,’ he said. 


Reverend Sam Leach conquered his fears to climb his church’s 165ft spire in a fundraising feat to pay for repairs

The 44-year-old is normally so afraid of heights that ‘going up an escalator, I have to hang on to the rail’

‘I would do it again. The view was so amazing looking out over the town centre and offering a prayer for our town and our bay.’

He admitted it was ‘unnerving’ to approach a ladder propped on top of ten flights of scaffolding. 

The Devon church is currently undergoing external repairs funded by the National Lottery – but a further £7,000 is needed for the building’s kitchen. 

‘Interior repairs are not covered in the lottery grant,’ Rev Leach said. 

People come out to cheer on Revd Sam Leach as he climbs the St Mary Magdalene Church spire in Torquay, Devon

The Devon church is currently undergoing external repairs funded by the National Lottery – but a further £7,000 is needed for the building’s kitchen

In order to raise the money, the vicar committed to a sponsored climb along with church warden Ed Williams, pastor Petrina Jones and verger Gary Clarke


He admitted it was ‘unnerving’ to approach a ladder propped on top of ten flights of scaffolding

‘Plaster is falling off because of a previous damp issue and we are worried that if we do not act now we may fail health and hygiene standards. 

‘That would be a shame because our kitchen and sitting area is vital to our work in the community.’

In order to raise the money, the vicar committed to a sponsored climb along with church warden Ed Williams, pastor Petrina Jones and verger Gary Clarke. 

‘I wasn’t worried about my safety as I was attached to a rope,’ Rev Leach said. 

‘I was worried about whether I’d freeze on the rungs and not be able to go up or down.’ Thankfully, he held his nerve, making it up and down in an hour.

‘Maybe it was people praying or something… I just looked straight ahead and focused on one step at a time.’ 

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